Dispatches > Quick Takes
Illustration by Krieg Barrie

Quick Takes

Issue: "On the rails," Oct. 9, 2010

Sneaking and entering

Getting out of jail wasn't the problem for two inmates in Pineville, Mo. It was getting back in that proved difficult. Officials with the McDonald County Sheriff's Department said two inmates successfully escaped jail for several hours before being caught sneaking back into the slammer. Officials say the two men were probably simply trying to score drugs and return before being caught. Undersheriff Bud Gow said the two men apparently set fire to a truck outside the jailhouse to create a diversion as they snuck back in. But guards spotted the pair prowling on a roof-top air conditioner unit attempting to get in through the hole they had escaped from. They now both face escape charges that could carry a 5-year term for each.

New French fashion

A recent French police crackdown means that tourists will have to double-check their supplies before embarking on roadtrips through France. A report by London's Telegraph newspaper claimed that hundreds of Britons driving in France had been ticketed this summer for not having proper driving supplies. French law requires motorists to carry high-visibility jackets to help protect drivers in the event of a breakdown. One catch: Drivers in France who stow the jacket in their car's trunk are still subject to the $117 fine.

Pricing power

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What may seem like the business of one fast food restaurant owner has an entire neighborhood up in arms in San Francisco. A McDonald's owner in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of the California city eliminated the store's "Dollar Menu"-a move that has local residents charging the McDonald's owner with discrimination. Against the homeless. The controversy started when owner Natalie Gonzales changed prices at her store, bumping up prices on items previously offered at $1. That caused some homeless and their advocates to charge Gonzales with trying to keep homeless people out of her store. But Gonzales says that it was strictly a business decision, and that the McDouble-now $1.49-is still a great value.

Idols cannot save

A statuette of the unofficial patron saint of drug trafficking could not save a pair of Illinois men who were caught with more than 110 pounds of cocaine in the trunk of their car. The problems for Jose Ramirez-Rodriguez and Efrain Rodriguez-Juarez began when they parked their drug-filled sedan facing the wrong direction on a street that led to a Cook County Sheriff's office. A sheriff's spokeswoman said suspicious police officers who searched the car found on the dashboard a statue of Jesus Malverde: "Clearly the narco-saint doesn't protect everyone."

Grave decision

Perhaps a New Jersey homeowners association should have asked around before digging around in a local cemetery. Representatives of a family that owns the Hendrickson Cemetery in Holmdel, N.J., have filed a complaint with police accusing the Beau Ridge Homeowners Association of desecrating the gravesite. The hullabaloo began when the association, which is charged with maintaining the cemetery, decided to replace 150-year-old historical headstones with new, flat granite markers. "Are we now that culturally bankrupt to remove historical gravestones?" a local resident asked the Asbury Park Press.

Armed, not dangerous

Credit one Portland, Ore., resident for being observant, just not observant enough. After spotting a man in a shop with a gun, a passerby phoned police. Armed with an address, police responded to the storefront-a gun shop-only to discover the suspect holding a weapon was simply a man selling his gun.

Pushing the limit

If Gino DiSimone's idea is any indication, Nevada's budget woes are desperate. The minor independent candidate for governor of the Silver State has proposed legalizing certain forms of speeding as a way to close the state's budget deficit. DiSimone's "Free Limit Plan" would allow drivers to purchase 24-hour passes to increase their personal speed limit to 90 mph on certain highways in the sparsely populated state. Under the plan, drivers whose cars had passed a state inspection and carried a special transponder could purchase a $25 one-day pass to drive 90. DiSimone estimates the program could generate about $1 billion each year. The Nevada Highway Patrol says the revenue would come at the cost of increased traffic accidents and fatalities.

Sites unseen

For tourists weary of the castles and beers of Germany, one Berlin sight-seeing tour is offering something different. Berlin tour guide Anna Haase takes visitors on a tour of the city's most famous toilets. "I thought my colleagues would probably all do tours of parks and churches, but I wanted to break a taboo and explain the history of Berlin's hygiene and toilet culture," Haase explained. She says the highlights are a public restroom dating back to the 19th century and a trip to the Kaiser's bathroom in Potsdamer Platz.


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